Tuesday, April 29, 2014

John Kerry and the Power of Words

John Kerry loves to throw words out there (ah, if only he would use his brain before he did). The latest word is "apartheid." In the past he has warned Israel about blockades and isolation - only to clarify that supposedly he wasn't threatening us with this, only informing us of the possibility.

Hey John, they've been boycotting us for 66 years - trust me, we noticed. Isolation, man, you don't know the meaning of the word. When people come to Israel, we don't even stamp their passports anymore - we stamp a piece of paper so the idiot Arab countries don't have to face some ink that says, "Israel" and get insulted.

So now he throws out the word "apartheid" and State Department spokespeople are quick to point out that he isn't saying Israel IS apartheid - no, they assure us, we are a vibrant democracy where all our citizens have equal rights. Gee, thanks for realizing it, John. Glad we talked.

But you see, they warn us, it is possible, if the peace talks fail (um...they are so dead even mouth-to-mouth, Kerry-to-Abbas, won't save them)...then, Israel might....

What was missing, other than any iota of logic, in Kerry's words was the balance. Always, forever, the balance. What of the Arabs? What about this dream of a Palestinian state? Have you no concern about what type of a state, a Hamas-Fatah alliance would bring to the Middle East, John? None? Any?

Open your eyes and look. It would be, God help us, a state much like the others that surround us. Have you noticed how well they are doing lately?

Egypt has just condemned more than 650 people to be executed. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY...yeah. Israel, in 66 years, has executed ONE person...Adolf Eichmann and if he didn't deserve it, never mind. A day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, I can't go there. One person in 66 years versus 650 people in one day...and you are worried about us?

Presumably half the population among Palestinians is women (you can balance out those women murdered by their families in "honor killings" with those who commit suicide or attack Israel or fire rockets to get to around 50-50). Do you have nothing to say, John Kerry, about what life is like or would be like for women in a Palestinians state?

According to a 2012 report, 37% of married Palestinian women have been abused. THIRTY-SEVEN PERCENT. Not a word about what type of state they would create?

They raise their children in violence, their women behind veils and layers of societal abuse and inequality. Nothing for them, John Kerry? No worries there about the inequality within their society? Nothing of what it is for a Christian to live among them? A Jew merely to travel within their cities?

The power of words is incredible. Words can kill; words can comfort. Words can promise and build, or wreak havoc and destroy. Look at Israel. We are a vibrant democracy and we don't need you to recognize that because the most important people of all know this to be true - we know it. We live it every day.

I rise in the morning and before I have even left my small city, I see Arabs coming to work here, shop here, and get medical assistance (or work in the medical facilities we have - the Arab doctor who treated a recent cut and infection, for example). I drive or take the bus - often driven by an Arab - into Jerusalem where I take the train to my office. Some of the train drivers are Arabs; many of the passengers are. They have no fear boarding the train...except perhaps for the train inspectors because an amazing number of the young Arab men who ride the train simply don't pay and so they watch for the inspectors and rush to the machine if/when they see them.

By contrast, I cannot drive freely and safely into an Arab village; perhaps not even an Arab neighborhood...and sometimes, not even close to one. Baruch Mizrachi was driving NEAR one, on a public highway under Israeli security when he was attacked and murdered less than two weeks ago. No words for the family of Mizrachi, John Kerry? No worries about a society that encourages its young to shoot into passing cars, throw firebombs and stones/boulders at passing cars and buses?

Israel, where Arabs serve in the government, vote, go to school, shop daily, take full advantage of our medical facilities is headed toward apartheid? Why assume that Israel spiral downward in the face of failed negotiations? They have been failing for 66 years and we've only gotten better and better over the decades.

To be credible, words must be used fairly and honestly. John Kerry's words were neither. He is frustrated, that is clear. More, he has failed, repeatedly because his ego stands in the way. He comes to preach rather than understand. Do it my way, he says, or you will fail. Well, duh, whether we do it "your" way or no way, the talks were destined to fail because the base upon which they were built was flawed.

Recently, Bibi Netanyahu said something very wise to the Arabs - call us when you want peace. Till then, Kerry, trust us - Israel will remain, as it today, a vibrant democracy where we struggle, as all democracies do, to give the best we can to all our citizens while balancing the needs of all sectors and realities.

And, by contrast, the Palestinian areas are likely to remain, as they are today, cesspools of hatred, violence, and abuse - for their wives, their daughters, their children, the minorities among them. Be Islam, or die. Listen to the Imam, the father in the family, or be punished. Do not compromise; do not show weakness. Fight the infidel.

And when you need medical treatment, try to get to the Israelis.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Because They Don't Want Us to Be Happy

I went through the checkpoint this morning as I do most days of my life. I noticed that there were more soldiers than military police. A bit unusual. The traffic was backing up on both sides of the checkpoint - also not that unusual, but still something to note.

The soldiers were more...more combat than not today. Often there are young women among the military police...today there were none. Their guns were just a bit more there; their stance, just a bit more alert. There was one stationed in front of the checkpoint and to the side...much less common.

As I drove through, I realized that this was because today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. These days that are important to us in some way, are the best days for our enemies to target us. No, not because we are distracted and not because they have a higher chance of success, but because we feel so much more deeply today and on days like this.

If we are happy - on Purim, just as Passover is coming in, on Independence Day, they are going to try to do something, attack something, hurt or kill someone. These are the people who attacked our country on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. That tells us all days are open. In the hours before Passover came in, they murdered a father of 5 young children as he drove with his family. His wife was injured but survived. Four of their five children were in the car with them; one was already at her grandmother's house waiting for their arrival. But her father never got there and her mother only came later to tell her and her siblings that their father would never return.

I have a friend who had Purim taken from him many years ago. His mother and sister were murdered in a terrorist attack in the center of Tel Aviv. Each and every year as Israel begins celebrating, dressing up and enjoying, his family remembers and mourns.

And on and on it goes. Today we remember the deaths, the murder, of over six million Jews. There will be ceremonies all over Israel and in most of the schools and colleges in Israel. Another 40 minutes from now, a siren will sound for two minutes and cars and buses and trains will come to a halt...there in the middle of the street. And people will get out of their cars and stand in silence. A tribute more powerful than you can imagine in a country where six days a week, we can barely find the time to stop to eat.

Today, we won't be happy but they know that we are even more emotional than most days, more sensitive to a time when we were attacked and made victims. The radios and television stations will tell stories of those who died...and those who did not.

And our soldiers, our precious sons and daughters will be that much more alert. Since the founding of the State of Israel, they and they alone have stood between the Jewish people and the next Holocaust. It is a sacred vow they make, an oath they take.

Tomorrow, we won't be happy but with that sadness comes the reality that we know despite our tears today and the many candles burning in memory of those who died, that tomorrow and the next day, we will give our children the promise of tomorrow and the very thing denied to the victims of the Holocaust - we will give them life. And life in their own land, in a place where no one can do what was done 70+ years ago.

Never again will we allow it. That's right, we won't allow it. Israel. Israel and our sons and daughters. It is not the Obamas and John Kerrys of the world who will stop it. They will talk, as they did in the past. They would rationalize it away while our enemies strengthen themselves.

We will be sad and we will be happy - on our schedule, in our time and in our land.

May the God of Israel forever bless the memories of those who died, those who were murdered in those horrible years. May He bless Yeshaya Zeev, and Esther Chaya, and Chaim Eliezer, and Binyamin Elimelech, and Shmuel, and Raizel, and Freida, and little Gavriella and so many others.

And may God bless the Chaim Eliezers who live today, the Yeshaya Zevs and the Esther Chaya. The Binyamin Elimelechs and the Shmuels. And may God bless Elie's daughter, who carries the name Gavriella, for a little 12 year old girl who never hurt anyone, but was murdered just the same.

We have taken back Gavriella's name; Elie and Lauren have let her live on into the next generation and the next and the next. This is what we do and something they don't understand.

We are sad today, so very very sad...there will be tears today and quiet tones and sad music...but soon enough, we will smile and laugh and dance...and that too will be in their memory and in their honor.

May God avenge their blood.

Friday, April 25, 2014

And the War Goes On....

No, thankfully not the one with our neighbors across the borders but rather with the neighbors down the block. I came home after a long day. Started before 5:00 in the morning; full day at a client's site; a trip to the airport to bring Elie back; a trip to the store to finally buy non-Passover things to find this.

The neighbor from a few doors down parked right next to my driveway on one side and his son parked on the other side.

Since the car on the left was partially blocking the driveway, Elie decided to call the police. He has another picture of when the same neighbor couldn't find parking and so ignoring his own EMPTY driveway, he parked partially IN ours. That time, Elie called the police and by the time they showed up 2 hours later, the neighbor had moved.

This time, it was already after 11:00 at night. Elie called the police and they decided that although I can't exit my parking to the left, I can pull straight out, move to the right, and then drive around the block rather than go the shorter distance right up the block. 

The police said they can't do anything because he didn't actually completely block me in. Meaning, if I can get the car in and out, even with difficulty, that's enough.

But as we were talking, the police and Elie and Shmulik and I, I realized that we are a family of volunteers and community activists - my husband volunteers for the police; Elie and Davidi volunteer for the ambulance squad; Shmulik works as a security guard and also is sometimes in charge of security at the mall.

The policeman told me to put my car by the neighbor. I told him that was what started this because the neighbor is insulted that we felt we could put a car there after his tenant put a car in front of our house. We are, apparently, supposed to figure out where to park and only his needs should be considered. His latest tactics seem like bullying to me, mafia-type harassment.

Ultimately, though, I think the ulcer will be his, not mine. And more, there is a justice that prevails and pettiness doesn't help. My car remains here in my garage. They can harass me as long as they want...but one by one, the neighbors are coming to me and asking me why this family is acting this way, why they aren't parking near their own house.

So today, the neighbors across the borders decided to talk nice to each other and in so doing, Fatah shows its truest colors; and the neighbors down the block spend their time walking up so they can prove their point...

Yeah, they proved it...they win...they can be more obnoxious than us; they can be more annoying and can harass people who did nothing to them.

And when all is said and done...yeah, Shabbat is coming and Elie and Lauren and their baby daughter are back in Israel.

The frustration melts away as I think of that; the pettiness becomes funny. It's like the family that sold us this house. They took so many things (against the contract) but when we realized that they had taken the peep hole from the door, pettiness turned to stupidity and humor. I'm fast getting to that point here...I wonder how long they are going to keep parking up the hill to prove their meaningless point...

On the bright side, maybe they'll get some exercise...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good Morning, America...

Yesterday and today...good days for Israel and the Middle East.

Yesterday, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement to create a unity government. I think that is wonderful. For so long now, we have been attacked by Hamas while being pushed to speak to Fatah. Fatah uses words as their weapon; Hamas uses missiles and explosives. Words and lies can be as deadly as missiles, especially considering how easily the world buys their lies and how often their missiles miss.

Yesterday, the Netanyahu government put its foot down after months of dancing to the tune of both America and Fatah. No...a wonderful word when used properly...no, we will not sit down with Hamas in sheep's clothing (otherwise widely recognized as Fatah). Just no.

And this morning, the US government issued a statement. "It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Hallelujah! Thank God! Wow...

Good morning, America! And thank you.

Genuinely and sincerely, thank you. Sure, I would have liked you to accept the fact that Fatah never really recognized our right to exist. I would have liked this to have happened BEFORE we released all those terrorists and murderers. And yes, I'd like the statement to have included the honest realization that really, they were stringing you (and us) along for the ride and it was a very painful ride indeed.

But okay, we can't go back. Only forward. We don't know what tomorrow will bring - we never did. It could bring war, as it has so many times in the past. And then the politicians will step back from their jobs and our sons will step forward, again, to defend this land. As a soldier's mother, my heart will freeze, as it did the last time my son went to war. They will fight and as they did in the past, they will do what they have to do

It is so unlikely that tomorrow will bring peace - not the tomorrow that will come any time soon. Peace is not in the current vocabulary of the Palestinian leadership.

And that is perhaps the saddest thing of all because among many Palestinians, peace IS something they want. Truly, their leadership does not represent them. These are the ones who regularly come in contact with Israelis. The ones who understand that together we can build a better tomorrow.

They use the road we have built, and know them to be better. They take their children to our hospitals and know we will do all we can to cure them. They study in our universities and then they too come to work in our stores, factories, hospitals, schools, restaurants and malls. They want peace; they believe that we can all just get along. And most of them recognize that Israel and Israelis are doing amazing things on all fronts. We have built an amazing country, an amazing society, an amazing culture. We help people around the world and right next door.

We do not ask Syrians who they fight for when they are brought wounded to our field hospital. Even the one with a hand grenade in his pants was treated with all the resources we can bring to help. We'll continue doing this, because this is the Israeli way, and yes, the Jewish way.

Abbas and Fatah and Haniyeh and Hamas refuse to recognize the core, the essence of who we are, what we are, and why we not only have every right to be here, we have more rights than they to do to the land of Israel. Never have we tried to push them into the sea; not once have we said they can't live here. We have merely insisted on our right to be here too and we have defended that right repeatedly.

So today is a good day in Israel. It's very hot here; the sun is already burning through the morning mist and promises it will be a scorcher. the roads are full as we go to work on the last day of the week and look forward to the weekend.

Last night, we slept with ourselves and awakened ready and rejuvenated.

Last night, Fatah slept with Hamas and they woke up in the same pit that the Palestinians have been in for the last 65 years. Until they face reality and want peace, we'll continue to thrive and they'll continue to wallow.
As for the Americans - it's hard to believe they won't take a step back and issue some regurgitated attempt to spin this around but that worry is for tomorrow. Today, I'll take Psaki's statement as the wake up call it is because she's right. Finally, finally, the US has joined us in the most logical conclusion. It IS "hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Neighborly Relations

I've always said it is the neighbors next door that will destroy our peace, not the neighbors across borders. This peace process of Kerry and Obama is sounding its death knell. Honestly, we all knew it was going to go this way but Bibi had this misguided notion that if we followed the road to the dead end we all knew was there, maybe...maybe...maybe, the world would correctly identify the ones who jammed the road, blocked all avenues, and spiraled the Middle East back into violence.

But no...it was obvious all along that this is what would be done; this is how it would be played. The world thinks Israel lost out on an opportunity - but it wasn't an opportunity in the first place or in the last place and no amount of wishing or delusional thoughts can change that.

My stomach is all churning this morning and I'm annoyed - and I realized that this is my point. The Palestinians will do what they want and honestly, as Abba Eban said years ago - they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This is just one of many.

So, while they live in less than ideal conditions and are restricted by virtue of the threat they pose to us - there is a one-to-one relationship, a very real one, we live in freedom.

We have wonderful lives here and often what annoys us most is not the neighbors across borders but the neighbors across the street, down the block or whatever.

So today it's the neighbor a few doors down who put in his rental contract that the tenants living in his illegal apartment couldn't park in front of HIS house...leaving them to park everywhere else and annoy most of the neighbors on all sides. And when his tenant put her car in front of my house for four days without moving it, I put my car in front of their house rather than take another neighbor's spot. To that, the tenant put a note on my car asking me not to park there and denying it was his tenants' car (then not even apologizing when the tenant admitted it WAS her car).

This time, their tenants parked their army-issued DMAX jeep/truck in front, filling the whole area in front of my house instead of his driving another few seconds and taking a spot just down the hill of where he lives....that left us having to walk past his house and three more houses to find the next available spot...and so this morning, knowing we'd be one spot short later today when Shmulik returns home from work, I put one of our cars there...this is where you have the choice to be a mentsch (a good person) or a mamzer (well, technically this is a bastard, but in this case, it just means a lousy person).

They could see that their tenant took the spot in front of our house and now that there are plenty of spots, they could ask him to move it and then explain that he didn't have anywhere else (not true) and they'd asked him to move and could we now move our car...or they can choose lousy - they chose lousy, nasty, rude and more. Instead of dealing with their tenant, they moved a second car of theirs in front of my house when I went to do the shopping. And they offered us a deal - they won't park in front of our house and we shouldn't park in front of theirs. Sounds like a good deal - but oh, right, wait...the tenants can park wherever they want. Sounds like a deal Fatah and Hamas could get behind!

So now two of their cars are taking the two spots we typically take. Where is the logic in that? Do these stupid people realize nothing is being gained here? No...of course not.

And when I saw the neighbor and said something about why his tenants couldn't park in front of HIS house, he answered, "who said they [the tenants] couldn't park there" (meaning in front of his house). Well, BOTH your tenants AND the father of one of them (duh...).

When I mentioned that his father had put it IN the rental contract, that they couldn't use the parking, he said, "who told you that?" Oh, the tenant (husband and wife), the father of the tenant, etc. etc. He denied it and said that if I don't park in front of his house, he won't park in front of mine. And went back to his previous offer - minus any restrictions on the tenant. Nice guy...not.
Oh yes, I know how petty this all sounds - and that is my point exactly and why I confess to this here. You see, we are not challenged by the fall of the "peace" process - it falls every other year, if not every other month.

We ARE living in peace now; we have beautiful homes and nice cars and jobs and all the latest everything. We have automated toll roads and automated parking systems and automated billing for all our utilities. We have cellphones and fast computers. We have one of the most advanced medical systems in the world. We have top universities (4 our of 6 are in the top 100 or 200 in the world) and they pick up the garbage regularly and plant flowers seasonally in our cities.

We work hard and we enjoy life and if we lack peace now and then - honestly, it isn't because of the problems with the Palestinians. It is because sometimes we are our own worst neighbors...or we unlucky enough to live near one like that.

In short, if you are mourning the death of the peace process, don't. It never had a chance from the outset. And no, we aren't happy about that at all - we do, desperately, want peace across borders. But for now, this week, this month, this year and perhaps even this decade, we'll settle for the stinking tenant parking in front of the stinking neighbor and being considerate enough to realize that we have as much right to comfort as they do.

And with that, I'll wish all of the House of Israel, including those miserable neighbors...a chag samayah - a happy and peaceful holiday.

Hitler's Birthday

Hitler's birthday was April 20th...and so, to honor it, the Nazis decided to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19th. They entered the ghetto and were astounded to find that they had come under fire. The Jews were not going to be deported without a fight.

After the Romans conquered Judea and pillaged the land and its occupants, they surrounded a mountain on the shores of the Dead Sea. The mountain was named Masada and what happened there has shaped generation after generation of Israelis. Convinced that they had no option but to be captured and turned into slaves, their wives and daughters abused, over 1,000 Jews chose to die. They committed suicide - each father killed his family. Ten men killed all the remaining men. One man killed the remaining nine and then killed himself.

In April, 1943, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto knew enough about Hitler's plan to understand that they could not go along with the Nazi deportations. Still, there was the possibility of survival, and so they fought - and some survived. Not many, but some.

And they held out for weeks, utterly humiliating the trained German forces that were sent to destroy the ghetto.

Masada...the Warsaw Ghetto...these are elements of who we are today. Masada will not fall again - it is a phrase in Israel, an ideology, a promise.

There will never again be a Warsaw Ghetto - perhaps this is not a phrase, but it is certainly a promise.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate...no, not Hitler's birthday, but the last day of Passover, which commemorates our freedom from the tyranny of the Egyptians. We became a people in the desert on our way home to the land that God gave to us.

The best, the truest, the only answer to Hitler can be found here in Israel where we speak Hebrew, where each holiday is tied to the land. Passover is the holiday celebrating spring and rebirth. The trees are blossoming - in my yard, across my city, in each corner of my country. The flowers are blooming all over.

Today we remember; tomorrow we celebrate our freedom.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Challenge to Missouri, America, and Its Jews

Hours before the Passover holiday began, Kansas City faced a tragedy...and a challenge. A sick, demented, hate-filled, ignorant man named Frazier Glenn Miller opened fire at two Jewish centers and murdered three people. The incredible irony, of course, is that in attempting to murder Jews, the moron ended up murdering 3 Christians, including an elderly woman and a teenage boy.

The mayor of Marionville, from which Miller apparently crawled, is equally hate-filled, demented, ignorant and sick and I would add, incredibly stupid and politically naive. He has been interviewed and instead of representing Marionville well, he took the opportunity, his 15 minutes of fame as mayor of a tiny town of 2,200 people (of which 20% live in poverty, is apparently 96% white, and in ten years, increased its total population by all of 12 people), to ensure that he looked like a fool.

He proudly explained that he has known the murderer for many years and that so long as the people who came in contact with Frazier Glenn Miller were of the same color (and apparently religion), honestly, everything was fine.

In an interview with a local media outlet (KSPR), Mayor Dan Clevenger said:
He was always nice and friendly and respectful of elder people, you know, he respected his elders greatly. As long as they were the same color as him. [He was] very fair and honest and never had a bit of problems out of him.
Fair and honest...so long as you weren't a Jew, a black, Hispanic, or anything that wasn't white, white, white.

The mayor added that he:
...kind of agreed with [Miller] on some things but I don't like to express that too much. There some things that are going on in this country that are destroying us. We've got a false economy and it's, some of those corporations are run by Jews because the names are there. The fact that the Federal Reserve prints up phony money and freely hands it out, I think that's completely wrong. The people that run the Federal Reserve, they're Jewish.

And therein lies the challenge to Kansas City, Marionville, America, and the Jews who live there.

My first comment is that if this mayor is not forced to resign, Marionville and Missouri should be ashamed. If this idiot is re-elected, the town itself should bear the brunt of their misguided choice. If you live close by, don't go there, don't buy anything there. Don't fill your tank with gas there; don't even buy a bottle of water there.

Fire Clevenger if you can, Marionville, before you as a town are labeled by the killer and the mayor who have put you on the map.

And America, search out the leaders among you. Make sure they represent the best and not the worst. Across the political divide, condemn not only the murderer but the mayor who "kind of" agrees with this.

And Jews of America - learn something from history. It is so easy to wash this away, to dismiss this man, this mayor, perhaps even this town. No good follows such naivete. These are the lies that Hitler told the Germans - that Jews rule the world and are the root of all evil. We can forgive the mistakes of many German Jews back in the 1930s. I mean, who in their right mind could believe that man could be evil enough to build gas chambers, right? Systematically hunt down and exterminate an entire people? No way...the world would never allow it.

Well, now we know. Because too often, the world is filled with Clevengers who look at a hate-filled man and see not the potential for murder, but respect for his white elders. People who will excuse the greater evil for the current status...until it explodes in their faces. This time, it was three innocent Christians who paid the price. It could easily have been a dozen - Jews and Christians. No one was safe from Miller's gun and no one is safe from Clevenger's racism.

Marionville will live up to the challenge or not. At some point in the future, if the media wills it, there will be a short article saying he resigned, was defeated, or was re-elected. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands and even tens of thousands of other Marionville's in the United States and around the world.

Reports have been in the media that a city in the Ukraine has ordered its Jews to register and list their property or face deportation. Though reliable sources say this is a hoax, John Kerry has confirmed it...now isn't that strange. Whether true or not (this time), it still says something that so many believe the story and are outraged...so the question will be - are they outraged enough in the Ukraine to get up and leave before the hoax-this-time becomes reality-next-time?

From the safety and peace that is part of life in Israel, I can tell you that I don't understand. Aliyah isn't easy - I know because I did it. And I did it 20 years ago without Nefesh b'Nefesh, an amazing organization that will help you build a bridge and even walk across an ocean.

Is aliyah the answer? Yeah - really, it is. There are no Millers here, no Clevengers either. What...what in God's name...keeps you there?

Do you think you are too young or too old to come? Infants have been brought by their parents...great grandparents have come to be with their children, their grandchildren.

Language? Most people speak English...somewhere, someone will help you. It's great if you know Hebrew, but if you don't - there are millions who speak Russian and English, tens of thousands who speak French and Spanish. The Jews have come home from Arab lands and aliyah from France is rising rapidly.

Missouri is a lesson - more than Miller...look at Clevenger. They are so stupid they don't even realize there is something wrong with what was said. No, Jews don't rule the world; don't run the US economy (it would likely be in better shape if we did); and we don't drink Christian blood either.

Honestly, I don't expect much from Marionville.

I expected more from Missouri, the birthplace of Harry S. Truman, who recognized the Jewish State of Israel a mere eleven minutes after it was declared on May 14, 1948.

As for America - I think the tide has been turning for some time. We have many supporters; many who love Israel and will stand by the Jewish people because they respect who and what we are, because they carry a love of Israel as the Holy Land but there are those who hate us and carry the hatred of centuries within them, as we carry our past within ourselves.

And finally, to my fellow Jews in America...what can I say that I haven't already said? What words would convince you, sway you, move you to come here, to visit, to live.

When you cannot proudly display a Jewish star or an Israeli flag for fear, when you have to protect your synagogues and Jewish schools...what is the purpose of your life there? When a man opens fire to kill you and his mayor calls him "nice and friendly," what more do you need to convince you that where you were born is not where you should live?

They don't want you there, and we do want you here. My grandfather went to America because there was no Israel that was safe for him; the British had blocked immigration and so he left his family in Poland and went to America. My grandfather went to America seeking freedom and a good life, but never forgot he was a Jew.

We were a typical American Jewish family - ranging from Reform to Conservative until I broke away and became Orthodox...the only one of nine.

Four out of nine of his grandchildren have married non-Jews; one openly practices as a Christian and despises everything related to the heritage she renounced. Do you think, for one minute, that my grandfather wanted them to live the lives they live today? Do you think he would have approved of who they married and the President many of them all but worship?

His grandchildren are raising fifteen great-grandchildren as Jews...one carries his name, Meir.  Eight of the fifteen are Israelis because two of his granddaughters came to live in Israel. So far, four out of four of their children have married Jews.

Here in Israel, four out of five of my grandfather's great-grandsons have served in the IDF and the last will be enlisting soon enough. Two of his three great granddaughters have already served this nation - one in the army and one in national service, and the last will serve soon enough.

Each and every one of my grandfather's eight Israeli great-grandchildren live their lives as Jews, proud and strong. They stand upright and wonder at the logic of staying in a land other than their own.

These are the statistics of American Jewry - confirmed by Pew reports; it is the truth we all know.

If this can happen in Kansas City, it can happen in Brooklyn. And next time, I doubt the Jewish community will escape the murderer's bullets or the mayor's latent anti-Semitism.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So...Some Updates

Haven't done this in a while...so, here's where we are at...

Amira and Haim were with us for the Seder. Their son asked the four questions and delighted us all. They invest so much in their son and each time I think a child that age couldn't possibly learn what they want to teach him, he proves me wrong.

Elie will be doing some more Reserve duty in the near future - not sure when or where. I heard something about a day and something about a week. He's in America visiting his in-laws and having fun with his wife and daughter.

Shmulik was asked if he wanted to serve his Reserve duty in the Rabbinical division. What that means, Elie explained, can be gruesome and I'm happy he declined. He's taking a computer management course and I hope it will help him get a good job in high-tech; in the meantime, he has steadily risen in his position as a security guard and now sometimes is in charge of the security of the entire mall when either of two other people aren't there.

Davidi is still on the line between where he wants to go next year. He is leaning towards a new Hesder program that he and the other 39 boys they select would get to shape into an amazing program. He hasn't decided exactly what or where. In the meantime, he continues to volunteer regularly for the ambulance service (MADA - Magen David Adom), is a counselor and one of the senior volunteers in the Jerusalem area.

Aliza has decided to remain in her current school and I couldn't be happier. She's more motivated and hopefully more dedicated. She has yet to understand how smart she is and often backs down. It isn't easy being the youngest and a teenager, but she's making her way through.

My oldest grandchild will turn 3 in about a month - he is sunshine and blessing and I am constantly in awe when I see how much he learns, what he knows, and the essence of the boy inside. He adores his cousin, Elie's daughter, and often speaks to her and want to play with her.

My youngest grandchild is just over 6 months and doing all that she is supposed to do...and more. She started teething early, produced her first two teeth, and smiles with all her body.

Life is good - blessed and wonderful. It won't last, but for now, I have all my children living close by and coming often. I try to focus on now and not think what it will do to me when they choose to move further away. You have to let your children go...either way, they'll go. So, if you let them go, they'll come back to you willingly and with love and never feel they had to break away to develop into the people they need to be.

Overall, internally, it is quiet in Israel. There are many storms on the horizon - there always have been and there always will be. So the best thing of all is to focus on today, and today is good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lessons for Our Children

Wow, what a title - how can you live up to a title like that?

I guess I'll start with a disclaimer - nothing I write here means I am negating all the other lessons we want to teach our children. Always, they should learn the value of kindness, of faith, of responsibility. All the days of their lives, they should know that who they are makes them part of a greater whole. Where they live was not an accident but part of destiny...theirs, and the Jewish people as a whole.

Way heavier than I wanted to get into but good to get that out front. So beyond all the heaviness in life, we are going camping tonight. I love camping and more, I love the memories my children carry with them. Before he flew to America to be with his in-laws, Elie and I talked. He's been amazing over the last few days, calling often and sending pictures of the baby. I've gone from seeing her almost daily and having her all to myself at least once or twice a week, to not seeing her at all for almost a week now.

How can I begrudge Lauren's mother this precious time...and I don't, not at all, but I'm missing her...them...a lot and Elie's calls are helping. Before the holiday (Passover/Pesach), I told him about the progress that I had made. The night before the seder, I had already cooked three trays of chicken, two trays of vegetables and made two different salads.

Elie told me that he remembers me always doing that - how we would sit down to a Passover meal the night before the holiday had even begun. I love that he remembers it that way because I remember more the frantic last minute cleaning and the agonizing long night that left me exhausted by the time we came to the seder table. I like his memory better.

Years ago, we were all up north camping and we heard a news report that said there was to be a meteor shower that night over the skies of Israel. We couldn't have planned it better. So we dragged mattresses and sleeping bags outside of the tent and all prepared to watch nature's show. And that's when some of the kids remembered our doing something similar - pulling mattresses out on our balcony to watch another meteor shower years before.

I want them to remember these times - to someday pull mattresses out on their balconies for their children and tell them how they remember doing that when they were little. So, last week I called around in the north to see where we could go camping for two nights. Too late to have done this, as expected, most camping sites were full and so I got this idea.

First I told Aliza and Davidi, then I told Amira. We're going camping in a place that offers all the comforts of home - bathroom, showers, electricity, mattresses, even free WiFi. Yup...our backyard. We are blessed with a really big tiled area. We're going to put down rugs and pillows, set up tents, have a barbecue and music, and sleep outside. And, if we are really lucky, Amira's almost-three year old son will remember this night well into the future.

So the lessons for our children that I started with...so many...first, the comforts of home...they can be found inside of you and you can take them anywhere, everywhere. To the north, to the south, even just outside to the backyard.

Second, you can make fun, have fun anywhere, everywhere - take it with you, enjoy life. I want my children to be happy, healthy, smart, kind....and more, I want them to build memories, to have fun.

So, tonight we are going camping - outside below the moon and the stars. We'll barbecue and Haim will play the guitar and our grandson will run around and wonder why we are sleeping outside when our beds are so close. But well into the future, I can only hope that my children will take their children outside to sleep under the stars, and their children and theirs.

When I was 16 years old, I came to Israel for the first time. At night, I looked up and  saw thousands and thousands of stars in the dark Israeli sky. It was the first time I understood God's promise to make the Jews as numerous as the stars in the heavens. I found three stars and watched them each night. They were mine, I decided.

A few weeks later, amazed to see them in the US skies, I pointed them out to a friend, "you mean Orion's belt?"

Yes, totally embarrassed that someone else had claimed my stars first, I decided it didn't matter. It might be Orion's belt, but it was my sign, my connection that under the same stars lies the land of my heart. It took me another 16 years or so to get here and in the 20 years since, I often look up at the three stars and smile.

So, tonight we are going camping - outside below the moon and my stars.

May God bless the land and stars of Israel, and my children (Amira, Haim, David and Aliza and YD) who will sleep below them; and my children (Elie and Lauren, Shmulik and Naama, and MG) who won't.

Monday, April 7, 2014

CNN and Me...

CNN and I have an understanding of sorts. I agree not to watch them, listen to them, visit their site, or read anything they write...and we're good to go.

Whenever I break the rule (I have to admit they thankfully leave me alone), I suffer increased blood pressure, headaches, and general symptoms related to sudden, intense anger. I can't stand CNN. In fact, the only media I can't stand more is BBC.

And yet...BBC did a really decent job with the show on which I appeared.

And yet...CNN did an amazing job reporting on the Israeli field hospital, doctors and Israeli rescue teams in Haiti.

And yet...CNN produced this video of what it is like on the Israeli-Syrian border and more importantly, how quickly long-held misconceptions are falling away as Israel, welcomes Syria's wounded.

(It seems that the video is not available to US viewers - what you see is a CNN reporter on the Israeli-Syrian border - first showing that we can hear and see the fighting from our border). Then, switching to the only field hospital on Syria's border...in Israel, and how we treat wounded Syrians who come seeking aid. We do not question them, we fix them...and then send them back (if they want to go). The CNN reporter shows it as it is...including both his own and the wounded Syrian's amazement at the humanity Israeli shows.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pollard for the Terrorists...

No, I'm not against the trade. Twenty-nine years of this injustice is long enough. But my first thought on this is...

So what the Pollard deal proves unequivocally is that his being held had NOTHING to do with treason, spying or justice and everything to do with getting the greatest price the US could off of Israel.

Congratulations America, you just bought yourself 400 prisoners including mass murderers of women, children, grandparents and babies.

And what the Pollard deal proves unequivocally is that Israel is a Jewish State, bound by the values of our fathers. We will pay the highest of prices for our hostages. Yes we will.

Once again, the value of a Jew has been stated. Last time, it was 1 Jew for 1,027 Arabs.

This time, it is 1 Jew for 400 Arabs and the honor of the United States of America.

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